You are working hard and want to be able to learn the language as fast as possible, right? I can understand that and it is possible to immerse yourself in the language even if you are in a English-speaking environment. Before you go to Quebec or a French-speaking environment (even in Ontario), there are a few resources that can help you with your learning.
To start with, setting up goals is very important. Learning a language can seem quite daunting and the more focused you are, the better your chances at succeeding. If you haven’t done so yet, join our Goal Setting MasterClass to help you achieve your goals of becoming bilingual.
Let’s start with the basics: Online dictionaries
There are are multiple online dictionaries but these are the ones I have found are the most helpful. If you use other tools, please don’t hesitate to share.
Word Reference provides general translation for individual words or expressions. Just like a paper dictionary, this online dictionary gives you the type of word, contextual phrases to make sure you pick the right word, play button to hear the pronunciation with Canadian and France accents and phonetic symbols.
Le conjugueur is a great resource when dealing with conjugations. As a learning tool, only check the verb tense you need, for example Présent, Passé composé or Futur simple. It can feel overwhelming otherwise if you are looking at different conjugations that we do not use all that often or that you haven’t yet discovered.
Free online translation tools – Online translators are not the best but it can sometimes be helpful to help translate a full sentence for the purpose of improving your understanding of the language. SDL Translate, as opposed to Google Translate, is populated by real translators so I tend to trust that tool a bit better. It can be used to improve your understanding only if you are critical about the outcome and you use it as a learning tool.
Where can I find French online?
According to Internet World Stats, French is among the top 10 languages used on the internet. Of course, not everything you will find in French is high quality but reading authentic material as opposed to “teacher talk” will help you discover new vocabulary words and sentence structures that you would normally not discover in a classroom setting.
Apprendre le français avec TV5 Monde is a fantastic resource for anyone starting to learn the language or want to develop their skills. You can pick the level you are at (A1 Beginner, A2 Elementary, B1 Intermediate, B2 Advanced, C1 Advanced) and it is specifically developed for learners of French as a foreign language. There are different types of activities like reading, grammar, listening activities with audio transcript, etc. It is based in France so expect a European French accent.
tou.tv – Radio-Canada (the French CBC) provides tons of free TV shows on demand à la Netflix. When watching a TV show, always activate the Closed Captions to see and hear the words at the same time. Even though Netflix has French shows, the audio and subtitles are unfortunately not made by the same companies, so you cannot get the same benefit as with Closed Captions. On ICI Tou.tv, you can watch kids shows, international reports, cooking shows with Ricardo, so many things… Make sure to turn on the subtitles (click icon at the bottom of a show when streaming is started) to see and hear the words at the same time. It will help your brain bridge the gap between reading and listening skills. Our reading skills are generally more advanced because about 50% of the English language comes from French.
Radio-Canada – Radio-Canada also offers tons of French news articles and many different topics. Depending on your region in Canada, you can select Région -> Toronto for example to get news related to your area. You like sports? Why not read about last night’s hockey game in French? You enjoy anything related to food? They’ve got that too! Look at all the different themes and get inspired!
News in Slow French – Listen to daily news in French, read slowly with a European French accent. The website offers a paid program as well if you want to delve deeper into the understanding of the language. We are not affiliated with this program and get nothing from mentioning them here.
Resources you can find in the GTA
Here are a few resources if you are in the Grand Toronto Area. If you are in a different region in Canada, send us a message and we’ll help you find resources in your area.
Radio AM860 – Radio-Canada talk radio
Radio FM90.3 – Ici musique
Le Régional – Local newspaper that covers the Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton-Niagara region, Guelph, Cambridge, Kitchener regions
L’Express de Toronto – Local newspaper covering news from the City of Toronto
The French Rendez-vous – We offer social events for French learners to help practice the oral language in a casual and welcoming envrionment
Get the LCBO Magazine in French – À bon verre, bonne table is offered online and in stores. Ask for your French copy at your LCBO store.
Centre francophone Hamilton offers cultural events in French in Hamilton, Ontario
Helpful resources you can purchase
Oxford Picture Dictionary – French to English – Very detailed tool but meant for French-speakers learning English. Can be used as a workbook but need to add feminine/masculine to all new words
DK’s Visual Bilingual Dictionary – French/English – includes free audio app to hear the words
The Language Learning Success Tool – You need help tracking your progress in French? You want to see how well you are doing? Our exclusive planning and tracking tool can help you go from overwhelm to success.
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